Let’s face it, chaperoning an overnight trip with students can be a teacher’s worst nightmare. The potential problems are numerous: students sneaking out, boys and girls alone in each others rooms, students bothering other hotel guests in the middle of the night, and many other things that keep chaperones up at night pre-trip. While you can never prevent 100% of incidents, with a bit of pre-planning you can be well prepared to prevent a large number of potential issues and make traveling with students more successful.
1. Choose rooms for students ahead of time
Getting in a room with friends is a BIG deal for students. Do not leave room arrangements until you get to the hotel and are giving out keys or you will have drama and tears on your hands. Ask students who they would or wouldn’t like to be with ahead of time. Find out the arrangements of how many beds are in each room and place students in rooms with others that they can get along with but will not be tempted to do things they shouldn’t.
2. Strategically place chaperones and students
Having students on one end of the hall and teachers on the other would probably mean you’d get more sleep, but it also increases the likelihood of trouble. Put chaperones in rooms interspersed with student rooms. Put yourself right next to the room that you anticipate the most trouble or noise from so you’ll be sure to hear it first. Separate blocks of rooms of friends or romantic relationships.
3. Know where all your rooms and students are
When keys are given out, write down the room numbers on a chart so you know where all students are. Make sure all teachers and chaperones have a copy.
4. Make it easy for students to find you
If students have an emergency in the middle of the night they need to be able to find you quickly. In addition to having your phone number, it can be helpful to put a sign with your name on your door to signal to students where your room is. If the hotel won’t let you do this make sure you communicate your room number to students by text or give it to them on a piece of paper.
5. Get to know the staff at the desk
Introduce yourself to whoever is on night duty and let them know your expectations for students. For example, if they see students leaving the building or get noise complaints they should call you. Most staff will happily do this, as they would rather have you address the issues than have to deal directly with students.
6. Set clear expectations for student behavior
Yes, you do have to tell students the obvious like “don’t take anything from the mini-bar” or “don’t make noise after 10:00”. Anticipate what might be an issue. Is it ok to order pizza? Is it ok to visit a friend’s room?
7. Do an in-person good night check-in
When it’s time for bed visit the rooms of all your students and make sure you actually see each student. If students say “oh she’s in the bathroom” come back 10 minutes later and make sure that you see her.
8. Teach students how they should leave a hotel room at the end of the stay and check the room
Teach students to be responsible guests by tidying up any trash, putting towels in a pile in the bathroom, and generally not leaving the room in a disastrous condition. Tell them they should make sure to check under the bed and in the bathroom to make sure they haven’t forgotten anything. Chaperones should still do a quick walk-through of each room before checking out. Chances are good that you will find something that would have been forgotten.